Louisville man battling cancer wins trip to Super Bowl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville man battling cancer wins trip to Super Bowl

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gary Degen and his sons were sitting in their living room growing restless. It was January 3rd, and the producer for an NFL Films crew was stalling.

Moments later, NFL great Howie Long walked in. His announcement: Gary Degen and his sons had won free tickets to the Super Bowl.

"Seeing Howie Long, a pro-football Hall-of-Famer, in your house was pretty breathtaking. It's pretty hard to describe unless you're in the moment," said Gary's son, Isaiah, a student at Trinity High School.

Gary's elder son Tristan, also a Trinity student and football player, said: "It was just a crazy experience."

It was great news for Degen, who has had a year full of bad news. Diagnosed in early 2013 with terminal prostate cancer, Gary Degen didn't know if he'd live to the see the Super Bowl.

Degen (a former walk-on at Villanova where Howie Long played before becoming a Hall of Fame NFL star) was given months to live. The parallel between his cancer diagnosis and football didn't escape him.

"It's how you deal with getting knocked down. And last January I got knocked down. I got picked up by the doctors, not just by the medical community but by my football family at Trinity High School and Christian Academy of Louisville."

Degen, a health care specialist and podiatrist, spends his free time running the video camera for Trinity High School's football team. His son Tristan plays on the team.

Last fall, Gary -- winded after climbing the stairs at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium -- shot a video on his cell phone which he submitted to an NFL contest expressing his love for football. In his video diary, Degen expressed his doubts on his grim diagnosis and talked about his love for football.

"I don't buy that diagnosis, I've had chemo. I've had radiation. I have two boys who are teenagers and they love football more than I do," said Gary Degen during the video he submitted.

The video caught the eye of NFL Films producers who made Degen and his family one of ten finalists.

Two weeks ago, Degen and the family learned they were among the winners and will spend a week in New York attending the Super Bowl and all its festivities.

Degen isn't pessimistic about his illness. He's determined to live and not listen to doctors' initial estimates that he might only live until February or March of this year.

Degen now has evidence that they could be wrong. His recent blood tests have shown his cancer cells to be "negligible," according to Degen. A good sign for the man hoping to become cancer free.

His doctor even told him he can delay his next appointment for a few months down the road. "I can't do better than that. I really can't," Degen said.

Degen and his sons all say they're excited to attend the Super Bowl, which is in New York this year.

Don't be surprised if you see them on television again. the NFL has given them field access part of the big game.

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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